Review: The HTC U Ultra

The HTC U Ultra, designed for U, is the latest phone from HTC that is uniquely different from their previous phones. Moving away from the unibody metal signature look, the U Ultra boldly plonks for glass that has been made popular by the like of Samsung. I might miss the industrial look of the HTC One series, but the U Ultra with the new Liquid Surface looks good in a refreshing way, especially the brighter colours like blue and turquoise. The way it catches light and shimmers like a piece of jewellery is stunning. Let’s dive deeper with the phone.
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Google Pixel & Pixel XL is out! (Bye Nexus)

The rumor has been proven true – the Google Nexus line is officially dead. Yep, bye Nexus, as Google just introduced two Google Pixel smartphone, namely the Pixel & Pixel XL (a href = “http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeanbaptiste/2016/10/05/the-pixel-smartphone-is-actually-made-by-htc-not-google/#6aa1a1d54ac9″>made by HTC).

Specification of Pixel & Pixel XL

  • 5-inch Full HD / 5.5-inch Quad-HD AMOLED display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 32GB/128GB storage
  • 12.3-megapixel camera with f/2.0, 1.55um pixels
  • 8-megapixel-front-facing camera
  • 3.5mm headphone jack (Rejoice my friends!)
  • 2,770 mAh / 3,450 mAh
  • Android 7.1 Nougat with new Pixel Launcher, Google Assistant and Google Magic
  • Google Daydream (VR)

Unlike last year Nexus 5X v 6P where there is a significant difference between the specification (eg. Snapdragon 808 v Snapdragon 810). The Pixel line has similar specification so you are able to get the same amount of power regardless of which model you chose. An interesting thing to note is that both Pixel & Pixel XL are smaller than previously Nexus 5X & Nexus 6P in term of screen size, which should be more suitable for one hand usage.

The Pixel comes in three colour – Quite Black, Really Blue & Very Silver (Yes it’s not a hoax).
The end of Nexus line also means the end of affordable stock Google devices, the 32GB Pixel costs US$649 and goes up to US$869 for the XL with 128GB.

With the HTC struggle to bring in HTC 10 into local market for months, we are highly doubtful that Pixel will be available in local market in near future.

LG Brings The X Power to Singapore

Under the LG X Series, the new X Power offers extended battery life, and will be launched this Saturday, September 17 2016. It’s a phone with a 4,100 mAH battery, in a relatively compact body of 7.9mm. This phone is targete at those who need a long battery life. Be it frequently out and about salesperson or Pokemon Go Players. LG claims a 72 hour usage life on a single charge.

The phone boasts Fast Charging, which is useful to fill up the 4,100 mAH battery. Time to full charge is approximately 1.8 hours thanks the Pump Express Plus technology (Mediatek QC alternative). It can also double up as a charger for other mobile devices by connecting them to the phone via the USB On the Go cable (USB OTG).

There is the usual software optimisations from LG. The X Power runs on a Mediatek MT6735 , 2GB RAM, 16GB Internal Storage, and a 5.3″ 720P screen. NFC is included, so you have access to Android Pay. Unlike the flagship sibling, the X Power battery is non-removable. The X power will be retailing for S$298 from M1, Singtel, StarHub, and authorized LG retailers. Each purchase comes with free LG premiums including a Transparent Jelly Case, Screen Protector and Reverse Charging Cable worth a total of $48, while stocks last.

Thoughts:

The X Power is probably too late to enter the Singapore market. Similar models are available from ASUS (Zenfone 3 Max) or Xiaomi (Redmi 3), which include useful additions such as fingerprint sensors. One plus point on the LG X Power is the fast charging support.

Do you want a Android Flip Phone?

Let’s face it, the phone you are using is getting bigger each year.


At 2011, Samsung introduced Samsung Galaxy Note, its 5.3″ screen is consider as gigantic and was deemed as potential flop where everyone thinks it’s just too large for a proper usage. However, it did went on to be successful and right now we are at the 6th Generation with Galaxy Note7.

In contrast, at 2016, ZTE just announced their latest Axon 7 Mini. The word ‘Mini’ would be misleading as the screen size is at 5.2″, which is just 0.1″ smaller comparing to 2011 giant Galaxy Note. While we can argue that with the improvement of design (especially with smaller screen bezel), it is easier to handle these phablet, but it’s still beyond comfortable one hand usage.

With a sole touchscreen design getting more common each year, the only way to make significant difference is to go beyond the norm and introduce a unique phone design. Blackberry does it with the sliding keyboard on the Priv, however the average specification that can’t justify the expensive price tag is unable to bring Blackberry back to their previous glory.

Here’s where Asia market came into picture, taking Japan as an example, 2016 will be the first time where Smartphone overtaking feature phone in the total mobile phone market share. In the past, as Japan are often advanced in their IT technologies, they have already been using cashless payment with their feature phone. Hence most of the population doesn’t feel the need to get a smartphone since their feature phone can get most of the task done.

However as the younger generation started to use Android/iOS smartphone, feature phone without the ability to install application (such as Line, Whatsapp) created a communication gap. To close up the gap, Japan phone maker such as Sharp introduced a flip phone running on Android, hoping to attract both older & younger generation at the same time.

On the other hand Korea phone maker, Samsung and LG brought smart-flip phone to Korea and China market.
LG Introduced LG Wine/Gentle/Ice Cream Smart which based on same design and specification of Snapdragon 400.

Samsung went further by tackling both lower & flagship market. Samsung introduced a Samsung Galaxy Golden in 2013 that feature dual touchscreen and continue to introduce a follow up with last year W2016 – technically known as a Galaxy S6 in Flip phone form. W2016 can only be purchased in China and costed more than SGD$1500 even in today’s market where S7/Note7 are widely available now.

Thankfully for people who are on budget, Samsung doesn’t neglected lower end market by introducing Galaxy Folder last year and continue with Galaxy Folder 2 as follow up.

According to leaked image and detail. Samsung Galaxy Folder 2 pack a 3.8″ WVGA display, running on the Snapdragon 425 along with 2GB RAM. Its expected pricing is around USD$285, a sweet spot for unique flip phone experience. Unfortunately, it is unlikely to be introduce in Singapore market given that almost no Android flip phone has been officially available in Singapore before. Would you like to get your hand on one of these unique phone? I would definitely like to experience it all over again given that my last flip phone is the Panasonic GD88 which is introduced in 2002.

Play Pokemon Go on Your PC with KoPlayer

Pokemon Go is still not launched in Singapore but there is a new way to play it on your Windows PC with KOPLAYER. This China company is marketing its Android emulator as a way to play Pokemon Go.

Afraid of going out into the streets in this not-so-safe world we live in? Considering the possibility of bad traffic, poor road conditions and car accidents? Sick of battery issues? They are now introducing a new way to play Pokemon GO on your PC computer in a safe way with a bigger screen and more fun via KOPLAYER Android emulator.

Hilarious really. But KOPLAYER is riding on the Pokemon Go craze to it’s Android emulator. Pokemon Go has really shaken the world. Even our Singapore minister says it will monitor the game’s impact on society, while our neighbours Malaysia are worried about the game’s impact.

Based on augmented reality, just about everyone has heard about this game. Hundreds of those adorable, yet ferocious, little creatures have invaded our real world, well except Singapore, Malaysia, and a whole lot of other countries really, so you would need to spoof your location in order to play the game. You may get banned though, so you may want to check out how not to get ban while spoofing your GPS location on Pokemon Go.

With KOPLAYER, it is all setup to play Pokemon Go. The APK is a click to download, and the location is pre-set to Sydney Australia. Pokemon GO gamers can use their keyboard to control and move in a convenient way. Click keyboard setting to use the WASD keys then you can walk anywhere on the map without going outside to waste your battery and date usage.

It’s really easy to use. I would only advise you not to use your actual Google account, you never know what information is transferred through the app. The app should be released in Singapore really soon though.

“We expect it to be released by the end of July.”

Going by Niantic CEO, John Hanke’s words, it is almost certain that the rest of the Asian countries including Singapore, India, Malaysia, China and others would be getting the official game release in the next few days.

Source: Pokemon GO Now on PC with KOPLAYER

Huawei P9 Hands On – Change the way you see the world #OO

Huawei P9 – Reinvent Smartphone Photography #OO

Pricing & Design

Huawei P9 is the latest flagship phone introduced early this year, along with P9 Lite & P9 Plus. Huawei is commonly known to be introducing flagship-standard phone at a much affordable price. P9 is no exception with its retail price of $768 during their first launch. It is one of the most affordable flagship when you consider the fact that it is the easiest entry to get yourself into the Leica bandwagon.

At 6.95mm, Huawei P9 is the slimmest flagship phone introduced this year so far. Consider it an achievement as Huawei managed to squeeze in a 3000mAh battery and managed to avoid the dreaded camera bump at the back of the phone.

sdr

On the back of the P9, an additional fingerprint sensor was added, a great improvement from last year omission from Huawei P8 where fingerprint sensor are becoming mainstream on flagship devices.

5.2 inches display are vibrant and sharp despite only having the resolution of Full HD 1920×1080. At screen PPI of 423 pixels/inch, it is almost impossible to distinguish each pixel from a usual viewing length and angle.

Performance
Huawei is one of the only few companies that produce their own chipset for their devices, P9 is using brand new octa-core Kirin 955 CPU, an slight upgrade from previous Huawei Mate 8.

Daily usage proven to be smooth & responsive despite the fact that benchmarking are considerably lower than other flagship running on Snapdragon processor.

Huawei’s own power manager are able to identify the power-hunger application and shut it off when needed, along with Android 6.0 Marshmallow’s Doze function. Users of Huawei P9 are able to get a decent amount of screen on time without reaching for the charger in the midday. Huawei P9 will be available with 32GB/3GB RAM & 64GB/4GB RAM version. With the help of Huawei’s Power Manager, I did not experience any occasion where application are forced close due to lack of memory. I am able to run multiple app at once without any lag.

Leica-certified Camera

Duo camera phone has been here for years, from 3D camera to purely creating bokeh effect, no one seems to have an idea what to do with the second rear camera. Unlike others phones where the second rear camera are often an assistance to create effects, Huawei P9’s second camera can actually work on its own. The co-development with Leica results in one of the most interesting duo camera set up so far – a pure monochrome camera.

Leica users should be familiar with their monochrome camera series that only shoot in B&W. Huawei P9 works exactly like that without a color filter array on the sensor, hence the sensor is able to take in as much lights as possible.

With the duo camera setup, P9 is said to be able to capture 270% more light than typical smartphone these days despite the fact that the F stop is at F2.2 for both 12 megapixels sensor.

Focusing is assisted by laser focus to provide fast focusing. Duo-LED flashlight are also here for your night shooting need, though I would not recommend using any flashlight for shooting on phone but the overall quality remains acceptable.

Monochrome camera

Only one word to describe the monochrome camera performance – Stunning. Details are kept to their best – as opposed to taking a color photo and covert it to B&W. Check out the monochrome photo sample below!

RGB camera

The usual camera benefits from the help of monochrome camera & laser focusing. Color turns out to be accurate and night time shot does not suffer from shutter lag.

Wide Aperture Mode

Huawei P9 make use of the duo camera set up to produce a realistic bokeh – RGB camera taking the usual shot while monochrome calculate the focal distance. With P9’s top tier processor & camera application, you are able to view the bokeh effect live while shooting photos without any lag. Noted that the effect can be best achieve within 2 meter distance.
 

Pro & Other Modes

The overall UI are different from usual Huawei phone we’ve seen so far. With the collaboration with Leica, the camera UI has been revamped with the standard Leica interfaces.

 

While the amount of different mode seems to be overkill, there are a good reason to it.

Pro mode is available for both RGB & monochrome camera. Photographers will appreciate the whole range of customizable setting similar to a standard DSLR.

Swiping left & right on the camera app will brings you to various mode (HDR,Night mode & time-lapse, to name a few)

I particularly love the light-painting mode. In light-painting mode, there are four different choices given – Trail lights, Light graffiti, Silky water & Star track. What sets P9 light-painting mode apart from pro mode is that P9 took the photo in right exposure first, and you are freely to add in any lighting effect for almost an unlimited time period without risking the photo being over-exposed.


(Trail lights)


(Light graffiti)


(Silky Water)

Conclusion

With the expectation of camera innovation raised so high this year. Huawei P9 has proven to be a worthy contender for this camera race for 2016. Along with the affordable price, slim design & Leica-certified camera, it is hard not to recommend Huawei P9 to everyone this year.

Bonus

Do you know that Huawei is the first to introducing a warranty scheme that last more than one year?

You are able to get up to two year of prestige warranty for your Huawei P9, along with one year of free screen protect (changing of screen within one year due to screen crack). Huawei also provided a Google app called HiCare (installed on P9) that can provide you with more tips & contacting services to ensure you that Huawei is always there for you when you required assistance.